Motor racing: New proposal for overtaking lane on hairpin bends

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The Independent Online
FORMULA One authorities are being urged to take a radical short cut to more entertaining grand prix racing.

The FIA, the sport's governing body, has called for suggestions to make overtaking easier and Patrick Head, the technical director of Williams, has responded by proposing the introduction of a limited-use lane. The plan will be put to a meeting of officials from FIA and the teams later this week.

How Head's suggestion will be received by the FIA and the other teams remains uncertain. Max Mosley, the FIA president, declined to comment yesterday on what the governing body considers "a confidential meeting".

Head explained: "We've been asked for our ideas because overtaking is difficult and you can have one car following another for 25 laps. I'm suggesting we have a short cut at a hairpin, which drivers can use, say, four times a race. If they use it a fifth time they are disqualified. It's a bit artificial, but then racing is an artificial activity. It would be just like the boost button drivers used to have for overtaking in the turbo days."

New safety regulations, including narrower cars and grooved tyres, come into force when the new season opens in Melbourne on Sunday week, but few within the sport anticipate any significant improvement in the racing spectacle.

Head maintains the problem is not a new phenomenon. He said: "I don't think there was a lot more overtaking 20 years ago, and if there was it was through attrition. But then what can you expect when the fastest cars are at the front of the grid?

"The problem is - and we've seen it so often in recent seasons - is that although one car may catch up another, overtaking is quite a different matter. Once a car gets into that dirty air, the car in front of it loses downforce and the necessary momentum to get past. So that's why we're trying to come up with clever ideas, to make overtaking possible in a different way."